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What Twitter Podcasts means for thought-leaders and community builders

After Facebook abandoned its attempt, Twitter is the latest to try integrating podcasts into their app. But they’re making some crucial mistakes that prove that really, social media wants nothing to do with podcasting. So if that’s the case, what can we do about it?

What is the excitement around Twitter’s “Podcasts” tab? What’s the plan, and how does it affect leaders using audio to build trust and strengthen relationships? Also, why do social media and podcasting have such a fraught relationship?

Twitter’s announcement

Starting Thursday, August 25, we’re integrating podcasts into Twitter as a part of our newly redesigned Spaces Tab. We know that some discussions need more than 280 characters, and bringing people closer to the ideas, content, and creators they know and love is core to Twitter no matter where the conversations take place… These new hubs will also feature the most popular and engaging podcasts from around the world.

A quote from senior product manager Evan Jones goes on to explain why this means podcasts like ours won’t be found:

What we’re really trying to capture here is as if it’s like another user recommending you something.

What Twitter should do instead

If you tweet the link to your podcast episode, we know how to get the actual podcast it came from. We can surface real listener recommendations as playable audio within the app.

Why Twitter’s podcasting implementation is doomed to fail

Twitter was an open platform almost from the beginning. There are two credible and open directories they could access for podcast listings, yet they’re curating their own list of “popular” shows (ie: true crime, straight white male comedy, and sport).

This isn’t about providing a better experience, it’s about user retention, and maximising time in-app.

Audio is a secondary medium

When you listen to a podcast, you’re inviting the host into your life. You’re bringing them along while you do your daily stuff.

Video, on the other hand, demands our full attention. And while we’re attentive, we’re also able to click and tap on ads.

Facebook tried integrating podcasts and it didn’t work

We’re in a different state of mind when we scroll. We’re not ready to put our phone down and listen to something long-form, we want to keep getting quick hits of info.

What makes us share things?

Anger, fear, excitement, and laughter. These four key emotions are what drives social sharing.

Long-form audio might elicit those responses, but finding a context-free clip that can be shared on social media to create that same reaction is difficult.

The pivot to video

We’re being told that in order for us to compete as podcasters, we have to include video.

Those who gain to benefit from the video hype are those that traffic in ads, which are far easier to track in streaming video than they are in downloaded audio.

Podcasting is a slow medium

Podcasts are a counter to social media in lots of ways. They provide a moment of respite, a moment of pause. They give us permission to choose how to engage our eyes and hands.

How can we make social media work for us?

Most of us don’t have a big enough social audience to move the needle, and tactics for converting audiences can only work so much.

Building a real audience takes time. In the meantime:

  • Keep having the conversations that need to be had
  • Make the show you want to hear
  • Seek out answers to the questions you’re asking
  • Quietly build your back-catalogue of insight and info
  • When people discover it, they’ll have a treasure trove they’ll thank you for

If you’ve been at this for a number of years, ask yourself

  • Am I learning stuff?
  • Am I having fun?
  • Am I building authority in my field?
  • Do I have the energy to make it to the next milestone?

If none of those questions elicit a “yes”, let’s have a chat.

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Transcript

00:00:00Mark
After Facebook abandoned its attempt. Twitter is the latest to try integrating podcasts into their app, but they're making some crucial mistakes that prove that really social media wants nothing to do with podcasting. So if that's the case, what can we do about it?
00:00:16
Welcome to the Podcast Owner's Manual, your handy reference guide to taking care of your podcast and yourself. I'm Mark, your podcast producer, consultant and coach. And today, we're talking about Twitter and the excitement around their Podcasts tab. What's the plan and, um, how does it affect people like us who …
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